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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
Better Together

BSMHFT staff put Elders Project on the global map

Published: 22/12/2022


A huge congratulations and well done to Beresford Dawkins, Dawn Sutherland, Dr Kimberly Sham Ku, Patrick Bennett and Dr Abdullah Mia who are now published writers in the world of Forensic Mental Health Care.

Focusing on the successful BSMHFT Elders Project, each of the five has contributed to a chapter entitled: The Elders Project: Bringing Black African-Caribbean Collectivism in From the Outside. Published by Routledge, the book is called Diversity and Marginalisation in Forensic Mental Health Care and explores the ways in which diversity and experiences of marginalisation are present in forensic mental health care settings around the globe. BSMHFT’s 300 Voices Project in 2017 indicated that long-term stays for Black African- Caribbean service users in secure and complex care hospitals lead to feelings of disempowerment, vulnerability, perceived lack of support in the community, low self-esteem and discharge related anxiety. It was this work that helped to inform the Elders Project - a proactive approach to supporting service users during their recovery journey with a specific focus on the difficult period of transition and discharge.

The Elders Project is supported by the Secure Care and Offender Health REACH OUT Equalities Task and Finish Group, chaired by Dr Kenney-Herbert and was first introduced in 2018. Originally it was as a pilot intended for selected service users in Secure Services at the Tamarind Centre. Volunteer Elders were recruited from faith, sports and music backgrounds who have strong family ties and individual skills to support certain service users during their admission in Secure Care.

Now four years on, The Elder’s project has demonstrated that community interventions including 1:1 support and group vocational activities can help to develop service users’ confidence. This in turn can support them at the point of transition and discharge from mental health care.

Beresford Dawkins, our Community Development Lead and co-writer of The Elders Project chapter, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to showcase the great work of the Elders Project team and put our forensic mental health care expertise on the global map. Both the writing of this chapter and the Elders Project has been a true collaboration and I’d like to thank everyone who has played their part. We’re excited to see where the next stage of the initiative takes us and most of all, the benefits it brings to our service users.”

Written by Jack Tomlin and Birgit Völlm, Diversity and Marginalisation in Forensic Mental Health Care is now available in all good bookshops!

Elders Project - Dr Abdullah Mia, Dr Kimberly Sham Ku, Beresford Dawkins, Dawn Sutherland, Patrick Bennet

Pictured from left to right are: Dr Abdullah Mia (Consultant Clinical Psychologist), Dr Kimberly Sham Ku (Senior Forensic Psychologist), Beresford Dawkins (Community Engagement Lead), Dawn Sutherland (Advance Nurse Practitioner) and Patrick Bennet (Nurse Practitioner).